SPAP Board of Directors
Heather Gilbreath is a 2006 graduate of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Physician Assistant Program where she has also served as a Clinical Instructor since 2010. She is employed in the Neurology Clinic at Children’s Health Dallas where she cares for patients with neuromuscular disorders and serves at the Neuromuscular Clinical Coordinator. In 2013, Heather received the Children’s Medical Center Advanced Practice Professional award for her efforts in education and advocacy.
Courtney has been a member of the SPAP Board of Directors since 2012, first as the Student Representative, then Secretary, President-Elect, President and now Past President. She is a 2013 graduate from Chatham University’s Physician Assistant program in Pittsburgh, PA. Since 2013, Courtney has worked in the Orthopaedics Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where she is also a member of the APP Advisory Council. She is also a preceptor for Ohio Dominican University’s PA program. In her free time, Courtney enjoys reading, traveling, and supporting her favorite sports teams including the Columbus Crew, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Tara currently works in the pediatric surgery department at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. Prior to this, she worked at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas for several years - first completing a one-year surgical fellowship program and then working within the trauma surgery department. Tara joined SPAP in 2016 and was a Member-at-Large for two years before transitioning into the position of secretary. She currently serves as President-Elect. Tara is originally from the Washington DC area and enjoys running, yoga, and spending time with her family and friends.
Brent attended Emory University for PA school and graduated in 2006. Before PA school he taught various science classes and coached baseball, football and wrestling at Massanutten Military Academy (Woodstock, VA), Riverside Military Academy (Gainesville, GA) and Lumpkin County Highschool (Dahlonega, GA) He also held an EMT license in Virginia and served as a volunteer and worked in several different emergency departments as an ED tech.
Secretary | CANDICE "NIKKI" TUCKER, MSC, PA-C
“Candice “Nikki” Tucker is Clinical Director of the Physician Assistant Program at Kansas State University. Prior to that, she practiced at Mayo Clinic in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology specializing in leukemia, lymphoma, and bone marrow transplant. She graduated from the OU Tulsa PA Program in 2011 & will graduate with her Doctorate in Leadership & Learning in Organizations from Vanderbilt University in May 2021. As a leukemia survivor herself, she is a passionate patient advocate and an active lobbyist for policy changes to increase resources and decrease medical costs for cancer patients. Originally from Oklahoma, she now resides in Kansas with her husband Tony & two dogs, Bailey & Kota.”
MEMBER AT LARGE | SUSAN KIRK
Susan Kirk has been treating children with blood disorders for over 10 years. She is a member of the immune hematology, general hematology, and hematosis and thrombosis teams. Susan treats children with many conditions including anemias, low blood counts and bleeding and clotting disorders. She is particularly interested in immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) and bone marrow failure disorders. Susan works with the hematology teams in clinical trials, including therapies for ITP and aplastic anemia. Susan's goals are to have her patients and famillies understand their diagnosis and treatment options and to help them navigate all of the aspects of their care.
Her primary clinical interests include immune mediated hematologic conditions, particularly immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) and autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA). She also has clinical interest in general hematologic conditions including nutritional anemias, enzyme deficiencies, membranopathies, and hemoglobinopathies.
MEMBER AT LARGE | KRISTY LUCIANO, PA-C
Kristy Luciano is an Assistant Professor and Director of Didactic Education in the Physician Assistant Program at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Illinois. She has been a certified PA since 1999 and has practiced primarily in outpatient pediatrics.
Teresa Kanev MS, RN, PA-C is a pediatric advanced practitioner at Heywood medical group in Gardner MA. She has been in the pediatric medical field, in some capacity, for over 30 years. She began her career as a diploma graduate registered nurse finding her niche in the pediatric field. Her advanced practice career started in pediatric oncology. Life, and its many curve balls, chose to help her vary her resume. She learned much along the way and strives to utilize that knowledge and continue to learn. She is currently enrolled in the doctoral program at MCPHS with a focus on global health. In her free time, she plays with her grandchildren and her two labs.
Laini is a current Physician Assistant student at Campbell University in North Carolina, where she will graduate in 2021. She graduated from NC State University in 2018 with a BA in Biology and a Spanish Minor. Laini is passionate for serving children and individuals who have less access to healthcare, both internationally and locally. Prior to PA school, she served on medical mission trips, and as an intern at a medical clinic in Belize. She was highly involved with Dance Marathon in college, raising money and awareness for Duke Children's Hospital, where she truly fell in love with pediatrics. Laini wants to help kids to have more birthday parties, more soccer games and more days spent out of the hospital than it in. She hopes to work in primary care or pediatrics upon graduation, specifically in rural areas, with medical trips abroad in her spare time.
Brian is a past-president of SPAP and is currently serving as the AAPA’s liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Brian has practiced in pediatrics since graduating from the Duke PA Program in 1999. He worked in primary care for 6 years, and has been at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta practicing in pulmonary diseases for the last 13 years, where he also is PRN staff in the urgent care network. Brian is a PALS instructor, volunteers at asthma camp, and coordinates student rotations within his practice. He is a scifi geek whose 3 cats are named after Star Trek characters. He also enjoys bird watching, gardening and traveling.